Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Man in a Skirt - Where Have I Been?

Where Have I been!

You would be entitled to ask, 4.5 months since my last blog but I have been here. I have had sessions on Twitter (@theskirtedman) but even that has had "time out" over these last four months and the last time I was on Twitter was 6th December some 17 days ago. That I must remedy and stand up for the real "True Gender Equality". Many spout this these days, mainly womens movements and quite rightly so in some aspects of life in this modern era but I tend to find many of these are only talking about issues for women when many of life's issues affect both genders, illness, depression, suicide, rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, murder, crime etc etc.  Thankfully, none of these affect me, depression did, and still could if I allowed it to. I do know many in this world do suffer from one or many of such situations. I as an individual feel strongly about it for them and because it could affect me in differing situations. I am also a big believer of individual rights and freedom of choice for all provided it doesn't affect the performance of society as a whole. I am also a big believer in gender equality for both genders and societies insistence of labels and stereotyping especially one sided labeling eg clothing choice to name but one.

I do keep thinking that I should be more vocal, on other subjects within life, not aggressive like so many do on social media. I regularly hear others views put very forcefully and opinionated to a point it is correct, don't you say anything else. Who is to say either is right, all you can do is move forward as best as possible with situations, but be inclusive with debates not one sided.

It is available time with me to be able to dedicate to his ethos. Since my big depression of 2010 through to 2012, I have bounced back much more stronger, determined and in some aspects of life more confident about me, the person, the individual. A lot of my activities I find interesting in life and suit me are very active and more intense than before. I have a page about myself on my site www.theskirtedman.eu and say that I feel that there is a gap of around 20 years where now I can see I let my life stall and to a point stagnate because of societies and others nearer to me applying labels, expectations and stereotyping at me, but never to themselves. I know many would not find my interests very interesting but we are all different and that is what makes the world varied and an interesting place. What I have and many do not, is respect for others, so long as no physical harm is done to others and the smooth running of society is not affected. My respect for others wains to nothing and I avoid them if they cannot offer the same.

I do not want my life to be dominated tackling others ignorance and I feel pushing more on social media would become just this. My time on Twitter, and this blog, my site and putting up comments as and when as I do now is an acceptable balance, for me. I should not let this blog be 4.5 months late though. I always try monthly, but not one has been monthly, usually 8 weeks but not 4.5 months. I use to spend about 45 minutes to an hour on Twitter, and reduced that during 2014 to every other day but other these last 4.5 months even that has had large periods of inactivity.

In the early part of the  last four months I came across a site called insideMan. A place for voices for men and boys but it is not one sided. Having sent them a few Tweets I was asked to do an article about my experiences of men in skirts in their series 100Voices4Men in the run up to International Mens day. This is the link to the article.

So where have I been. My wife and I have had time away either at friends, friends being here or just days out and yes I am skirted. Here is a photo of me this October in Stratford upon Avon.
I tend to forget to take photos these days when I'm out and about skirted but quite honestly it is not always possible to. My wife and I have had the odd evening meal out, been walking with friends, although walking I have not been in a skirt! We have been to social events and even this week been to York to see other friends. Each time I do get my usual quota of a negativity, but it is a small number in relation to the vast majority who just let life go by or engage in business or conversation with you. The odd man will form part of this small group but it is always by far and away women who will giggle, point, chatter and it is always women in their modern style of dress based upon male style clothing, trainers, chunky boots, and not in any former traditional female dress code. Yet they still expect men to be traditional and have no change. To me it is nothing but selfishness and a hypocrite. I have put up the odd tweet to #feminism and #everydaysexism and I think I will do so more often, They are keen to highlight what they do not agree with regards men.

My wife and I are both far more socially active since 2012, partly because I feel more settled and relaxed than I use to be but also because my wife took an opportunity to retire and leave what was a dominating, pressure and mostly an unthanked job.

But what else has taken me away from doing this blog earlier. My garden season boomed this year, it kept me very busy and as my wife joined me more clients were keen to utilise our service. I usually go very quiet at the end of October, with only one client keeping me occupied in November but this year with the warmth, wet and a good growing season garden work continued right up until 30th November. This seriously delayed the detailed research I need to undertake for the months December through to April on winter home DIY projects. I did do some research in November evenings, but I really needed the gardens to close for the season.

With deciding not to move and stay where we are I need to start to think about the house for the next few years. Working on it over the last 15 years it is in overall good condition especially as I have done 95% plus of it I could spend more time on the job knowing I wasn't paying professional prices and the professional just wanting to get the job done quickly and move to the next job.  The bathroom is 25 years old. We inherited it and the bath has some large hairline racks in the base. It doesn't leak but its age is showing. All this work will be done be myself. Altering plumbing, electrical updates etc. The bath will be re-positioned as we feel we can make better use of the area. I will take the ceiling down. When I did the house roof back in 2003 I knew the bathroom roof which has no loft space has insulation in but only 100 mm. I'll extend the roof rafters so I can place 200 mm of modern foiled insulation in still leaving an air space between the insulation and roofing felt. This will bring this roof into current UK insulation standards matching the barn annex and the main house loft. At the same time I can place flush ceiling lights, made easier with the ceiling down but also with LED light bulbs in use they give off no heat. The bathroom has no extractor fan so placing this in the wall, wiring it in with RCD and isolating switch is also feasible with the ceiling coming down. Being able to do this type type of DIY on my own makes my wife's and my resources stretch a bit further. Having chosen the bathroom fittings earlier we took the opportunity of the reduced prices of 20% on Cyber Monday and because the nominated delivery date of 8 days hence and confirmed by the company was missed, the delivery charge was refunded.

I'll start this work in early January. 29th & 30th December I'll finalise this years self employment accounts and submit my tax form for last year then I have a clean start on the bathroom. It also stops me from making a mess of the house of Christmas and the New Year.

The kitchen is also on the agenda. I put this in 15 years ago as a temporary job but all our friends say why? I have to say it does still look good. When I do a temporary job I usually still do it well but 15 years ago this house was a basic holiday cottage and the microwave took up the only work space and the sink draining board was rotten wood! Quick action was needed.

My wife and I live within our means. Since my wife has retired we live on the pension and the gardening income pays for improvements and breaks away. We don't need extravagant lifestyles, we drink minimal alcohol and do not smoke. We run our cars until they drop so changing them every two or three years is not a problem for us. Last years gardening income has been set for bathroom where I only need materials. My time is free and no professionals required. The kitchen is slightly different. Have they changed over the last 15 years, price, options, colours choices. Kitchen specialists were for us quoting silly money. Large DIY on budget units was still going beyond £10K so once again I start my research, I'll do the kitchen completely DIY, sourcing, implementing and designing.

We saw a kitchen style in the specialist shop that we quite liked, a higher grade than what we were being offered in large DIY stores and quite honestly the price difference between the two sources was around £2000. They were all not too happy with my involvement, one insisted they at least fitted the units but paying people for a job I can do only increased costs. We had a budget and access to a very small savings pot that could be raided knowing that gardening income this year would be needed to replace that rainy day pot.

Many hours leading to days research I found a supply only kitchen online outlet. In fact three or four but I liked the one we finally chose. They supplied all the styles and ranges found in the specialist kitchen outlets but at half the price. The downside is you take your measurements and you source the fitter and prepare a preliminary layout. For us that wasn't a problem. They provide alternate suggestions to the layout and produce the standard computer design prints, elevations and perspectives. Sourcing replacement appliances is at our control like the 15 year old cooker which is looking tired and the thermostat at times questionable. The specialists even large DIY outlets provide you with a price but are they competative. The ones we approached I asked for breakdowns and checking on the internet no they were not. I didn't realise that if you choose granite work tops where ever you go for a kitchen it is the granite supplier who takes the template, measures and fits. They provide the same service if you approach them or your nominated supplier but the cost is dramatically different. From the two other quotes we had going direct I have saved 50%. I have saved 50% on the kitchen specialist price for the kitchen units and the complete package is coming out 25% cheaper than the large DIY quote. Being able to source replacement appliances myself also means I can shop around for comtetivtive prices and take advantage of sale prices in December even though the kitchen will not be started before February. The best news is that my wife can have the kitchen she had hoped for completely within our budget without making compromise unless you want to call doing all the project managing and fitting as a compromise. To us, it isn't as you will see from earlier blogs we have recently completed a 12 year project on a barn annex conversion 95% on our own.

That blows 2014 garden income and means we will not be having a holiday in 2015, but pre 2012 we didn't have holidays so another year will not be a problem. You never know, late 2015 may provide an opportunity once 2015 garden income is coming in depending upon how much of that will be needed to complete both bathroom and kitchen. Short term blips are manageable its if you do it year in year out it becomes a chore and depressing.

I'm not an 'eco warrior' but I try my best with what is available in life at my disposal. I have always recycled long before council recycling collection came into the UK. As long as there were recycle bins in public places, I used them. I would always try and co-ordinate journeys which involved the car. I have always moved with light bulb technology as I firmly believe bulbs take up about 30% of domestic energy usage. In the 90's I moved onto the low energy bulbs even though then they cost about £10 each. I delayed moving onto the LED white light bulbs as these in the early days were a little 'iffy', 2010-2012 I was not in the right state of mind then moving to France I didn't see the need. Since September 2014, every single bulb in this house has been changed including the annex that I have renovated as you will know from my earlier blogs. I shopped around trying to find the most cost effective bulb, finding one place initially but when I changed more bulbs found an online outlet that had them for the same price but saved my petrol. Perhaps the transit environment element was not removed but to me, I would have to go specifically, the delivery van would always be on the road and one more parcel did not increase its carbon foot print. That's my "eco" philosophy. I learnt from research that LED are rated in lumens, not watts. 800 lumens is about the same as a 60 watt incandescent bulb. We have 5to7 watt LED, 400 to 450 lumens depending upon light fitting and location. The watt decrease in energy consumption is dramatic, especially in the winter months when lights are on for long periods. At £8.50 per bulb the projected energy bill reduction will off set the initial outlay in one year. They have life spans of 30000 hours plus. Ours give a much brighter light than our previous low energy bulbs.

I was in a large DIY store a few weeks back and passed a couple about in their early 60's buying bulb replacements. His wife mentioned LED bulbs but his reply was, 
"I'm not paying £9.99 for a bulb. These here have served us well in the past and are much cheaper." I noticed in his hand a 60 watt incandescent bulb. I had thought of mentioning my experience of LED bulbs but I soon realised as is so often the case with society they are always right, their views are correct. Anyhow I have had experience of sections of society that dismiss me without knowing me or my experience more so when I am in a skirt. Yes, that day in the DIY store I was in a skirt. Their loss, I moved on.

Time passed by quite quickly and creating time for this blog kept being postponed. I shall try harder in 2015 to be a little more frequent.

I'll wish all my readers a happy Christmas, I'm not religious at all but season greetings are expressed in the western world at this time of year along with happy New Year. For any other religions or cultures that may read this I offer no disrespect and wish you all the best as well.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Man in a Skirt - A Fresh Look at Life but not About Skirt Wearing.

Over these last few weeks we have both decided that we will stay here, where we are now and not move to France. Firstly what housing boom, where is it? Since the Bank of England reaction to the booming housing market and interest rate increases in 2015 the few viewings we had with regards the sale of our house dropped off the cliff. London and certain cities may be having a booming time but here in Northern England there are still many, many houses for sale and have been for a time. We have queried with the Agent about the price etc but they say it is not the property, its the situation of the UK housing market and they too said their is no boom except for certain cities and our property is among the top of the list for enquiries. Yes houses are selling a bit more than previous years since 2008 but only less than £250K. In our area the more you move above £250K you get less and less interest with Stamp Duty levy and talk of rising interest rates. Only houses with land, tired and in need of modernising or houses that will take low and 'cheeky' offers are moving north of £250K.

In May this year we went to a Living in France seminar where accountants, lawyers, agents etc attend to spout forth. The last time we went was mid 2012 when we first thought about entering retired life in France and running a gite business. The tax rules have changed far too much for us with the social charge slapped on everything and tax free savings reduced to a low level and nothing for share dealings except for company annuities. We would be paying more tax than the UK lower rate of 20% with the 6.5% social charge on their lower income tax band a reduced level before entering the 32% tax rate before the social charge, a 46% social charge on any profit made from the Gite business, and other aspects that for an ordinary couple on an ordinary income makes it very questionable especially when you start to take into account savings accrued over the years by doing without in preparation for the retirement stage of life. In France recognition of this has been severely reduced over the last 2 years. Second homes profit on resale by non-french residents now incur a 48% Capital Gains Tax on profit so so long as you do not sell and with a profit this is irrelevant, as to buying a house to live out their on a nominal pension and not be bothered about employment etc is also fine, but in our mid 50's we are to young to have a laid back life style so we'll stay here in the UK despite it's problems that officials seem to not to want to redress.

So we are staying here, we have a good location which suits our preference for life, i.e. greenery not concrete, quiet not noise. It's not for all but it suits us. My garden business has expanded this year. Last year I turned down new clients as according to the agent last year we were definitely be sold by the summer was out. We will expand and run this until such time as we cannot sustain the level and enthusiasm thrown at it then reduce or stop and take retirement more fully by stimulating brain and exercising legs by other means - possible in France.

We have been debating this decision since May. We both would like the challenge of moving to France but do not want to get embroiled in penny counting. We are not getting any interest in the house since the Bank of England rhetoric earlier this year after all we are not in ideal commuter location. Viewers that we get are very 'it's a buyers market' attitude, and one was banned from a second viewing having previously critisied the house for size and price and telling me on the first visit that we will take what ever is offered. The other tack we have noted from would be viewers is stipulating a specific date and time, take it or leave it. We all have lives and cannot sit around waiting and if possible to move an appointment we do but it is not reciprocated at times. We do not have to sell for any reason what so ever, so we are not.

Followers of these blogs may recall me saying that we may run a B&B here as a skirted man with my wife. Although we do viewings when for sale with me in stereotypical male clothing any long term dealings with members of the public would certainly have to take me as whom I have a right to be not what they expect or tell me I should be. After all who in the wider public spectrum consult others or me about there choice of dress or appearance when they enter my life or pass me out in public. No one does. I would be quite happy to tell any who arrived and made any negative sentiment directly or via body language that if I'm not good enough for them there are other B&B's to go to. This idea has also been shelved. The Barn conversion that I have done, been mentioned in earlier blogs, has taken some 11 years to do and B&B regulations changed in 2006. As it is only a two bedroom B&B possibility we are exempt still from many tight regulations but one or two do now apply and all can be got around. However, one in particular we are not happy with. I have hand built individual solid oak ledge and braced doors and door frames sort out authentic heavy duty, new but aged large T-hinges to take the weight of these doors which now have to be removed so modern day self closing chrome hinges can be put on. Bearing in mind that the door frames do not have self seal smoke retention strips in them which is not required we personally are not going to spoil these doors just to meet a regulation when smoke seal strips are not a requirement. This and noting that a B&B even run part time through the year is a 24/7 on site job and unlike gardening if the weather is good we can take out the odd ad-hoc day and have a day out in good weather rather than not work over the weekend, which I don't tend to do and have a wet weekend. Flexibility disappears with a B&B. Friends staying would need to be coordinated more and then their is the public. We are back to the minority again but a handful will be argumentative, nothing is right, damage because many public these days have the attitude 'I've paid for it, I'll have it' and we found ourselves saying, hang on, this is our home, our castle, our bit of England that is ours so no B&B here.

This has taken a huge cloud of uncertainty off us, and restriction on our lives.

I have made some minor updates to my site www.theskirtedman.eu here and there in the latter weeks, and done my usual 45 minutes approx most days on Twitter standing up for men in skirts. As I have said before on these blogs apart from fell walking, DIY and my self employment I am skirted all the time and this has continued. We have been in Lancashire doing canal walks and coastal walks skirted, we have done some hill walking not skirted, continued having the odd BBQ here and there but this last week not. The weather is changing here and I firmly believe we are heading for an early Autumn. I am cutting back in my gardens earlier than usual and the general feel of gardens and autumnal nips in the mornings so early in August does not bode well for me. Not sure about snow/frosts for this forth coming winter but I do think it is going to come early and be a 'long' one.

Been out and about generally skirted like food shopping, locally for the weekly paper and odd provision run out of, etc. Been to Ripon, Durham and York for concerts based at the respective Cathedrals. The last two Saturdays were at York so went a bit earlier and did some shopping of clothes including skirts and if you have been to York you know how busy it can be on Saturdays especially with good weather. Had a couple of meals out with these concerts, not for all, but for York. So what about my skirt and public reaction. No different to usual. Vast majority carry on with no difference a few stares and a handful of negative looks but as always from women who have embraced the female forerunners who pushed for a change in their clothing expectations but I've said this before. People engage in general banter with you or as so often happens within a group of humans ignore you because that's the way they are or perhaps they don't like you for some reason or other and yes it could be the skirt but then it happens when I have trousers on and become the stereotypical male. This can be out and about in the street, at the checkout queue or even with the staff. This varies from store to store, place to place, not always one type of store and I find it is no different to me having trousers on or skirt. Humans being humans are on the whole very defensive about contact with strangers, the unknown etc and I find this even when in trousers. At the meals people nearby engage in general banter briefly but as usual, in trousers or not, concentrate within their own table. What about attending the Cathedrals after all I am entering the domain of Christians and I am basically a bloke in a skirt. Blogs on the internet from 'Christians' about men in skirts usually questions men but absolves everything for women but it wasn't going to stop me, it's a public place, a public advertised event and I am not breaking any laws of the land despite the church hypocrisy on many aspects. Durham has been the most osteer, with regards contact from officials but then I noted that was the same for others except for regular church goers they knew and you can tell by the conversation. York representatives have been chatty as too Ripon by some and others very reserved but from experience of churches, even when in trousers, the large majority of representatives of these churches are OK with you provided you do not show any sign of being non-religious or question the book etc but when a man appears in a skirt, well that's challenging the Christian strict rules of belief even though the Bible says 'God loves all" and in the human world the church accepts anything with regards dress and appearance from women. We have been to a few concerts at Ripon this year and going recently I noted one of its vicars, I apologise for not knowing the correct title, acknowledged us from a far and last week made contact with us, quite happy to engage in conversation with us both, not religious preaching within the talk and asking if we would join for the wine and chatter that followed the concert as it was part of the price. We declined saying we feel uncomfortable in these situations as with all human gatherings, the groups gather with those they know and the unknowns pushed on the side lines and it can be hard to break the initial ice. He understood. People attending the events are no different to other events elsewhere, the vast majority of humans keep to themselves or within their group, no doubt talking about others who are different or about what they have been doing etc and only those either side of you will either have a brief verbal contact or as can happen becoming more prolonged in talk. This happens with us with me in a skirt as well as trousers. We went to London earlier this year, went to the theater and I, in a skirt had long conversation before, interval and afterwards with the bloke sat next to me.

I really do not find being in a skirt makes it any more different with regards human contact. It is impossible to talk to all, be friends with all but as always from my experience 99.9% of the public just are not bothered  or if they do , like most of us, me included, will say to each other, did you see that etc etc. The only thing I found whilst in the Cathedrals, many are regular church goers and have this 'church atmosphere' around them and I find many from life experience are very judgmental and are far from perfect themselves.

I came across this sentence on a radio 4 Thought for the Day "...like societies of everywhere, we mock the taboos of others yet fail to see the absurdity of our own...". I think sums up society in most aspects. This appears on my Introduction page of my site with a link to the full Radio 4 article.

I have no photos for the last 3 weeks but I can assure you I do go about my day to day life wearing clothes that I have a right to wear under this modern era of equality and Feminism and I strongly advocate that any man can and should if they so wish.

Not seen many films just recently but have watched The Lone Ranger starring Johnny Depp and despite the review of the critics both myself and my wife thoroughly enjoyed it and laughed a lot during but unlike the critics, I am a man in a skirt and it has been said on the internet you cannot take a man in a skirt seriously! Also seen Liam Neesons recent Non-Stop, like a good action movie, and have also watched Noah. Now Noah doesn't get a good critic review but like the recent remakes of Superman and Batman, and making them more believable, still being a comic book character, with reason and justification as to how they achieve their abilities I look at Noah as the same. It is basically a Bible story and the event of Noah took place, apparently a millenia or so before the Bible was actually written. According to the Bible it was all perfect, positive and good and Noah saved the day but in the real world why not have Noah with a partner, children and problems with life these are not recent additions to human life! Why not have other tribes, good and bad and aggressive human behaviour, humans have always been like it, still are. As the story is basically folklore, then why not have creatures that appear in the stories liker in the folklore of the Greeks, Vikings etc. Just because it's based upon a Christian story does not make it perfect, sweet, harmonious etc etc. That's similar to some films from Hollywood that portray the US as the masters and perfection of everything eg Argo when it was the Canadians who did the life threatening actions or even the Sound of Music when the male is made out to be the aggressor and the woman is perfect yet in real life it was the other way around! Now this could be a topic for another blog.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Man in a Skirt - Walks, BBQ's Tour de France. Anything Else?

Another 4 weeks. Thought I had better do another blog. As always this is just some of the activities I do. Skirt wearing for me is a choice, when I should do, if I should do, just as it is for women in trousers and other male style clothing. The only time I become awkward is when others say I shouldn't because they don't believe in it. This is my life, not yours or theirs. How many consider others with what they do in their own lives? Also, you will have to take my word for my activities in skirts. Photos cannot always be taken, my wife as I have mentioned before feels very self conscious taking photos in groups and on many times the occasion doesn't allow it. At times it can appear as though I'm uncomfortable being in a skirt or I'm pushing the point into others lives when nobody at the time makes any reference.

As usual been very busy. Done my usual 30 to 45 minutes of what I call "Twitter bashing" most evenings looking under man in a skirt and men in skirts. Promote the cause, don't others for their own ways and beliefs. Tweaked my web site - www.theskirtedman.eu -  here and there, made one or two sentences a bit clearer, added some quotations I have come across. Still haven't had time to develop the page on my site Misogyny and or Misandry.  This page is not a high priority for me, but it will come. The 'heated' debates on Twitter, the internet and certain quarters of the outside world on this subject are I believe only by a small minority and quite honestly does not form part of my life too much. My wife  I have a good set of friends, male and female and such debates do not come up or need to. Both my wife and I do not these days work in an environment of employment, I'm self employed and our life ticks by just fine for us. I'll stick my neck into this arena as and when a person, usually a woman, who will criticise me or expect me to behave or dress in an expected way, usually because it is consider traditional  but don't themselves. Then I stand my ground as I have equality, rights etc. They may have a view, but so do I. Unlike them until pushed I don't tell others how they should be, I respect their chosen personal preferences in life. I really do not care if it is a man or woman in charge, running the country or whatever, all I look for is have they the experience and knowledge and do they carry out the role evenly, fairly and responsibly. If not then that person is entitled to be commented upon, man or woman. That's my belief, I'm for true equality not gender dominance.

I'm going to stop there and get off my soap box. If you follow these blogs you will know my ethos, also my Tweets get my equality message over if not my site.

My self employment business is doing very well, still keep being approached for new work but I do believe in a life work balance, money is needed but... I'm selective, turned down one request due to location, but I am considering another. Although I don't garden in a skirt and the locality know I prefer skirts it isn't having much impact on my work. Anyhow, a lot of my time Monday to Friday is occupied. Weekends and occasional during the week is quality time.

Seeing friends either here or there has been quiet recently, they too have had things on let alone holidays but they have been seen and yes I am skirted, but last time we saw a friend we did a hill walk. They are not into big fell walking but a change from canal walks we went up Ingleborough, a seven mile walk with one hill. You will know from past blogs and my site, hill walking, or certainly walking away from terrain like canal tow paths, work and my DIY I am not skirted but are for other aspects. I have over the last few weeks been out and about skirted and reactions are the same. A handful will make it known they are looking, but all others just get on whether they agree or not.

One of my garden clients invited myself and my wife to a large BBQ they had organised. Apart from chatting as and when they are up, we had never socialised previously like this and my skirt wearing never seemed to come up. Why should it. Upon the invite I raised the subject, after all it was not part of my DIY, gardening business or fell walking. They were fine but had reservations about two others that they knew of within the group so I said that's fine, I'm encroaching into your private lives and your other friends/acquaintances take precedent over me so I will decline. There response was we would like you to come, so be yourself. I did. Yes upon arrival, 25 other people, apart from my clients, their daughter I had not met others before and two were initially very cautious, the body language gave it away but within minutes of talking with them it wasn't a problem and actually said it had been a pleasure talking to me that evening. It was a good evening, good atmosphere and I spoke to many bearing in mind the garden space and all the clutter made wide circulating very difficult.

Talking about BBQ's, this year has been very good for us for BBQ's and I have lost count how many we have had so far but here is a photo of me at one of our own BBQ's.

Yes I'm always skirted in these situations too.

Done one or two Hill walks over this last four weeks. We don't go high in the winter months and even the weather puts us off on low level walks but this year my wife had a temporary problem which made even canal walks very difficult but since early June we have been able to remedy this. Done Ingleborough as mentioned, done a 9 mile walk over Buckden Pike and last weekend an 8 mile walk over Great Knoutberry. Been to the lake District a couple of times including one walk of 14 miles and approximately 3600 feet of climbing.
I wasn't skirted on these walks  but the photos here were taken on some of these walks.

Tour de France came to our area, and we went to see it. Very pleased that we didn't get the huge crowds as predicted or some expected. We certainly couldn't have coped with the crowds that were shown on the television. Knowing our area and the 'quiet' volume of people we got a spot on the main road side with nobody else around. Now that is perfect. We had our own private Tour de France. The many sponsor participants waved and tooted their horns and we knew it was for us. We got one or two freebies thrown, even the British and French police waved as they past. Good position for photos with no obstructions.

Being in the country rabbits and moles are a constant nuisance for domestic gardens. I hear many a visitor say the rabbits are cute and are horrified to hear that I shoot them if they appear in the garden and set traps for the moles. The next time I'm challenged I'm going t say, I'll put them in your garden and I'll see your response in two weeks time, perhaps even within 48 hours! I have an air rifle and I have issued a warning to the rabbits and moles, stay out or else but they don't seem to understand. They are crafty, especially rabbits. I'm convinced they have committee meetings to discuss tactics, but I change mine. Over the last 4 weeks I have not had to shoot one rabbit which I'm sure some out in the blog reading world will be pleased to hear so perhaps rabbits do understand.  Moles come and go but the traps do go in when tunnels are spotted. For those who are horrified about this just imagine your garden covered with tunnels and plants uprooted by moles or most plants eaten to often nothing by rabbits. I don't make any apologies and yes I am skirted as well dealing with these problems - not always!

Watched a few DVDs, Jack Ryan - Shadow Recruit, One Survivor, Escape Plan and Non-Stop, Liam Neesons latest. All good, yes leave a few questions of how, but, and etc but films for me are there for entertainment unless it is stated based upon a true story. I do not rate The Sound of Music or the film Argo as both have the facts clearly distorted in the interests of film making and societies preferences or in the case  of Argo the US prestige. I was therefore a little cautious on One Survivor as this is based upon a true story of a US military unit in Afghanistan. My thoughts were Hollywood propaganda as can be the case but we got the DVD on a special price so waiting for it to drop to £7 or £5 which is what I would have done for this film didn't happen. It is a very good film, not propaganda and not only shows stupidity within the military hierarchy it also brings up  points of discussion should they, shouldn't they, the problems created for themselves by following strict rules of engagement when the other side don't and why do we bother about places like Afghanistan. The end leaves you in full understanding why civilised countries try to help those who are suppressed even though some within our society moan or even expect our cultures to be adopted by these countries but then that's another debate and wasn't part of this film.

At the end of the day I'm just an ordinary everyday guy, who may share some of your type of activities or not but then it doesn't matter even though I may wear a skirt.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Man in a Skirt in France & Family Wedding

Since my last blog TheSkirtedMan has been very busy out and about in his skirt. The only time not is for my self employment work.

One week after my last blog my wife and I had a week in France. The Lot and southern edge of Correze. We did have one day in Albi in the Department of Tarn so if you know of anyone who says they saw a man in a skirt in France it could have been me. Not necessarily was me, depends on the area and there are other men in skirts out and about. Below are three photos of me in France. The first one is at Les Tours de Merle, the second at Cahors and the 4th at Brantome.

From leaving home in North Yorkshire in the early hours of 31st May through to finally returning late on the 9th June I was dressed as depicted in these photos. Good weather, only one wet morning but by lunchtime it was back to blue skies, sunshine and on that day 29 degrees. That was the coolest, always bottom 30's.

As in previous years since 2010, airport, customs, flights etc I was in a skirt. See my website www.theskirtedman.eu for photos of me at the airport in a skirt. Did I have any hassle. Well as always you get a few who give a momentary look, and a small handful who will make more of it but as always nothing directly at me except for compliments. I had four in the 7 days we were in France. Two from English, two from French. My wife says she feels the response is similar to the UK but I think it is slightly better. Either side of the channel one or two men will point, look and you can see them muttering something, but the handful that want to make the issue either side of the channel it is always the woman, the woman who herself is not traditional dressed in the sense that they still expect men to be. Of course, if anything is said to them or about them then Feminism, discrimination etc are raised. Why do I think it is better, will for a start many will say "bonjour" as you pass by. Only a few English in the UK say "hello" back home. Many women in France will often speak to me first, always just a passing everyday acknowledgment but back in the UK from my experience, even in trousers and the stereotypical male clothing still labelled by society for men, many women seem to think that if a man smiles or speaks then he has sexual agenda attached. I find it refreshing out in France and quite possible other areas of the world away from the UK and USA which are my only other places I have direct experience of. In our week in France in two different locations we passed school parties on educational trips, at least four. Firstly their behaviour was extremely good. Very quiet, yes banter between the children, but quiet. No running around or messing about and only once did we see two teenage girls running about and the teachers only had to raise their voice once for it to stop. The only time I have seen this in the UK was when I would help out on trips organised by my wife when she was a teacher. I'm not saying it doesn't happen elsewhere in the UK, but I haven't seen it. So what was the reaction in France for me with these school parties. In the UK many would start laughing, pointing etc, and you can see it going down the line, and only rarely are the children checked by the teachers. In France on my recent trip only two girls tried to create a reaction but it was never picked up by the others. Many would say "bonjour" to me as they passed and on one occasion when the party was next to a door, children opened it for me.

Many people would engage in general conversation with myself and my wife as we went about and in the airport in France both queuing for the registration and at the gate I could engage in conversation yet I never achieve that in the airport in the UK. These conversations are with men and women. I find at the UK airports many just get on with life, but one or two whilst in queues just stare.

My first compliment was from an English couple who were visiting St-Cirq-Lapopie in Lot. Liked my outfit, very stylish, remarked on how much cooler than trousers and thought those who were negative should mind their own business. The second was from a French student and his girlfriend whilst we were in Cahors in Lot the third was when we were at the Rock of St Christopher by a french couple and the fourth was back in the UK having just passed through Customs at East Midlands airport when a woman made reference to and that she liked my skirt and we engaged in conversation about it's practicality, why men shouldn't if they so want etc, etc. During the week I had many a positive nod of the head as people went about their day to day business. Yes, each day I had a small handful who made disapproving looks but as always they were not stereotypical dressed as they obviously expect me to be. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. See my website www.theskirtedman.eu for my reasons why men should and can if they so want to. I don't need your permission, after all how many women seek permission of men for their modern day dress code? One such occasion was in Albi in the Tarn Department. My wife and I were sitting at a street cafe in the shade and four French people sat at the table behind my wife.
I'm not aware of the mens reactions but then the angle for them to me was not good but one woman had a direct line of sight. Comment was made within their group then the other woman just turns and stares, and stares and stares, once we both had eye contact I certainly wasn't going to flinch first. It went on for what seemed like minutes so eventually I lifted my sun glasses so we had eye ball to eye ball and then I lent forward. She gave in. Yes they were in trousers, the one who stared in jeans. The shoes were hardly typical women either.

Coming back we had two nights at a hotel on the East Coast for a family wedding. I mentioned last year in one of these blogs that I had attended a wedding and a funeral in a skirt, so here I post a picture.
For respect I have blanked out the faces except for mine and my wife, but I think the photo speaks for itself. Did I have any problems no. My parents and my younger brothers negativity has dissipated over the years, see my website for more on this, but many at the function would have a banter and chat with me, people I had not seen since the last family wedding, people I had not seen since leaving that area in the late 1990's even some from the family of the bride were chatty with me, one man  in particular a time served member of the army and retired from civilian work had a long conversation along side one of his elderly relatives and at no time did anyone remark on my attire. Three made disapproving looks but these three were not family members and I have always had funny vibes from them so I just leave them be.

No problems at the hotel or elsewhere over these two days except for one incident with three young girls as my wife and I walked from the hotel to the church. You could tell there was going to be a reaction as they approached and passed and I gave it a few moments before turning to note the giggles and one girl trying to get into a position to take a photo. My wife asked them not to but the reply was "why not, we will if we want to". I immediately got my camera out of my bag and walked towards them taking photos but they turned and moved quickly away shouting, "your taking my photo, you cannot take my photo."  "Oh yes I can" came my reply.

We came back home on the Monday having a good 4 hours or so in York as we headed towards the dog kennels to collect our two dogs. The rest of this week has been taken up with my self employment work but tonight we are going to see one of my clients who is 93 years old and yes I will be skirted. At 93 and with early signs of dementia she is very forward thinking and can have quite a good banter over whisky and wine.

That's the last three weeks briefly. I have been doing my quota of Twitter replies for men in skirts.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Time Slows for No One, Not Even a Man in a Skirt

Approaching 8 weeks since my last blog. Each time I say I'll not leave it as long but not by intention, time passes by. Hence my title! Obviously my life is very full and active, as too for my wife. We do most things together but also separate quite often working in different areas of the house but we have a lot in common and we do work as a team bouncing off each others strengths and weaknesses. My wife has a good female friend whom she meets once, twice a year in York, but over the latter years that has gravitated towards staying at each others house and involving her husband and myself. I'll chat and banter with her husband who like me does not like large groups and most of male activities like pub drinking, sport, bawdiness, bad language etc. My wife meets occasionally for coffee at their respective homes with a woman she got to know whilst at work and both had similar work experiences. She also meets a small group of former parents (my wife is a retired Headteacher) but this is only about three times a year again for coffee.

So what has TheSkirtedMan been doing recently. As always this is just a cross section. On the 28th April my garden seasonal work started and all my clients are still keen to keep me, even though we are trying to move to France. That says a lot about my work as well as me. My wife helps out in this gardening activity. This takes up most of our time Monday to Friday allowing one day for wet weather and in week two of the fortnightly cycle on top of one day for wet weather another day for ad-hoc personal events like Opticians, Dentists, other appointments etc. I am very keen within my business that I am prompt, reliable and ensure that what I need to achieve in the five days I do so. The season is very active, in fact the first fortnight is really just to get on top of the gardens, going back to one or two two or three times so that by the end of the fortnight I have the cycle set up and most jobs on top of, ensuing that outstanding jobs can be undertaken within the cycle. Here roughly 4 weeks on the cycle is flowing smoothly and all requested ad-hoc jobs undertaken. This will keep me very busy now until early October when it will settle down to about one or two in November and completely stop by mid November. Anytime away has to be carefully thought about and planned. It is not a business like a shop owner, or manufacturer etc but it is still a business and everything is above board and declared. I maintain my account and submit everything with the Inland Revenue. All is declared, even the clients who pay cash. I live my life honorably and honestly. I know some don't but that is there affair. Some will say I'm stupid, rules are here to be broken but I don't believe in that. Like with individuals, if I don't agree, like or believe in then I simply stay away. Let them get on with their lives. I'm happy with mine, I am content it may be simple, not flashy etc but do I care, no. Since 2011 I do not back down or stay quiet when others voice views and opinions, those days are long gone. For to long in my personal life and work life I let others direct, dictate and influence my life. I ignore those I do not need to deal with and those who need to be within my life yet dominate or make their ethos/views know upon me or us then I give a reply. I respect others right to views/opinions and will listen, at times you can learn, but I refuse to be walked on or over just because they feel everyone should jump to their command. I,  my wife, have views and opinions too and quite often those that spout at us seem surprised that others have views! Obviously society laws are an exemption, agree or not with some of them that is part of being a member of society and rules stop society falling apart.

In the run up to 28th April 2014 since my last blog we worked on the barn. We know it wouldn't be complete but we needed to have all the big jobs done. I landscaped the septic tank area which now just needs time to mature and grow. It may look a little "twee" at the moment but it will not in due course. I needed a few stones for this and I saved some around the back of the house for a few years but I was short by one so just before the builders departed with waste in the dumper truck I reclaimed one large stone. This is a picture of it.
So what is specially about it you may ask. It is just a rock but as I said to my wife this rock has been buried in the ground since the Dale we live in, in fact look down into and along with our 18 mile East/West view, has been carved out by the last Ice Age some 12000 years ago. In fact it could have not seen day light for a lot longer if the glacier hadn't even disturbed it then. I find this type of information fascinating, perhaps that's why I like a bit of history, old history, not modern.

I made 8 internal solid oak doors from scratch and hung them on my previously made oak door frames put in during the winter months. Here are some photos, of me making one and two of finished doors.
My wife has got all eight rooms of the barn annex painted out except for the staircase. She starts that on the 23rd May 2014, tomorrow at the time of writing this. I have one cupboard door to make which I will do on the 23rd May and then just put in place 12 electrical accessories. For us the barn is finished at that point. We have not plumbed the two En-suites or tiled them and the shower room. The Estate Agent agrees this should be left as suites and tiles are very personal choices. All the rooms have skirting boards on, again another job done my myself.
We can put on our choice of tiles and plain white average white bathroom fittings but in the housing market it is known that 98% of buyers change bathrooms and kitchens. Taking out what we have put in and taking tiles off walls will only damage the wall surface which will need to be remade before re-tiling. The annex is complete basically. Put a floor covering down, furnish it is what everyone needs to do so that is no different. Getting a plumber in to fit your choice of tiles and fittings is what the majority do. Everyone barters down a house price, too far and they are rejected and these two En-suites and shower room painted, and fitted out with electrics is a good blank canvass. If I'm asked to finish then it can only be done to our specification as if it had been done previously. I cannot provide guarantees etc and working to someones request brings me into a different aspect of laws and legality so again another good reason not to put the plumbing in place. The picture below shows two doors, one front and the from the back. Also all the oak, the ceilings, the pointed wall and block wall behind the plaster is my handy work, the man who wears a skirt. By the way skirting boards are now on since these photos were taken.

Now that's basically the last 8 weeks and why another blog hasn't appeared before now. We have met up on a few weekends with friends and unlike working on the barn and my gardening business I am skirted at other times. Some times these are specific events pre-arranged others like last weekend impromptu. We met one friend and walked about 9 miles on the Lancaster Canal from Lancaster to south of Galgate. Our friend went home to attend to her cat but we went on to an area of Morecambe Bay, north of Morecambe where the dogs can run and we can watch the sunset over the Bay and the Lakeland Fells with a packed up tea.

One weekend when a male friend of ours came to stay, he too is not into big fell walking. Big fell walking I wear trousers, but strolls along canals, parks, estates etc I'm in a skirt. We took him on such a walk and moved onto a cafe which we had not been too before, after which we had a stroll around the estate it was situated on. I entered the cafe first, followed by my wife then our friend. As soon as I entered the whole noise in the cafe went quiet and all looked. The power of the skirt I thought. I simply said "Hi everyone" and carried on walking in. The noise resumed and the staff were fine. If they had thoughts none was shown. The odd customer had quick look but life went on. This is the first time this has happened to me in a skirt but not the first in my life. Yes it has happened before, just as bad on two previous occasions and I was in trousers and stereotypical clothing society deem as menswear so it is not the skirt. It is the people. It's like entering the saloon in the wild west. A stranger in a place not seen before and in the three years of skirt wearing in public it is the first. I muttered something under my brief and my male friend said quietly, "now, now Jeremy". I scanned the room moving towards a table and noted only myself, my wife and one other woman was in a skirt and she never gave any impression good, bad or indifferent. The other women were in jeans, trousers, trainers, chunky shoes, many had short hair, some had tattoos, chunky tops, sweatshirt style tops etc. Once sat I said to my male friend, taking only the two of us into account, who is the cross dresser here. "Why you" he exclaimed. "Are you sure" I replied. I continued "taking all the males into account here including myself in a skirt, you and the other males are all dressed in clothing styles that is now taken as normal and standard for women, so me, a man in a skirt cannot be the cross dresser, but you are."  He muttered under his breath.

We have recently had 3 days in London, preceded by my wife and I meeting our niece from my side of the family over from Canada. As we were to catch the train in York on the Sunday morning, we met them near to where they were staying on the Saturday and I was skirted as depicted on my site www.theskirtedman.eu  the whole of the 4 days 24/7, hotels, cafes, tourist attractions, trains, tubes, buses, theaters etc etc. Not the first time I've been to a theater in a skirt, been to Sunderland twice, Edinburgh Tattoo as well. One or two looked, but so did we and very, very few women in stereotypical clothing of tradition which is expected of men. Many many women were in modern day womens clothing styles, very similar to men, quite a few in jeans and trainers and some of those had frayed holes in the legs of their jeans as well, so some may have thought I was out of place but based upon others freedom of choice I didn't. The two couples sat either side of myself and my wife were happy to talk to us both before, during the interval and the couple on my side did so after the performance. In fact the theater was getting almost empty! We had a good time in London. Went to the Viking Exhibition at the British Museum, that was very good.
Met up with the son and his wife of my wifes best friend and had an evening meal with them, did St Pauls and the Tower of London, both attractions neither of us had done since the mid 1970's! We did the Whispering Gallery and the outside Stone Gallery of St Pauls - skirted. We had two full days in London, but to keep the train costs down we caught the 8 am trains both Sunday and Tuesday mornings so arriving in York mid morning we went to Benningborogh Hall for lunch did our grocery shopping as we went to collect our dogs from the kennels.

A busy busy time. Not seen many films but one in particular does stand out. The Railway Man. Very moving, well acted and very well portrayed. A true story abut a British soldier and his experiences of his time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and the after affects of him, his buddies and respective partners. I'll not tell the ending just in case you haven't seen it and intend to do so. It should have been Oscar nominated and awarded but don't get me on my soap box on the Oscars, it's just like politics and big business.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Man in a Skirt - Some of my Activities Over the Last Eight Weeks

Firstly, the barn conversion is still very prominent in my life but more on that shortly. What has The Skirted Man done since my last blog. As usual I do not provide a day by day diary but a synopsis of events. I am skirted, or to satisfy some within society, wear women's clothing, whenever I am either not involved within my self employed work or doing serious DIY at home.

We have had visits from friends and yes I do go out an about with them in public whilst skirted. They have no issue. Been within our own immediate locality and to places like Ripon, Harrogate down into Lancashire to name a few further away from home location. When not in my work clothes I do pop down to our local village to collect weekly local paper and the Radio Times in a skirt. I'm sure some take exception when I'm out and about but am I bothered. No. Lets put it this way, how many consult me or ask my feelings about what they wear or what they do. They don't, especially women who if any one is to make it know to me about my dress code via body language and looks, which isn't often, it is mostly women, and the modern women at that.

Over the last 8 weeks I have been to opticians in a skirt, taken my wife to hospital for periodic consultations, yes I was skirted and went to a restaurant that ranks in equal first place with another for us, some 1.5 hours drive away to celebrate achieving a milestone on the barn conversion and as always when we dine out I was skirted. Been to a favourite pub of ours in the Harrogate area as well. We attended Ripon Cathedral 4 times over this period, three of which were to organ recitals. The cathedral arranged these to celebrate the completion of the recent overhaul of the organ. Both myself and my wife love to hear a church organ played, especially if very well and these three organist were very talented. Yes I was skirted, but out of the three sessions I was only aware of three who raised eyebrows, but do you know what, apart from me and  my wife we only saw three other women, on separate recitals in skirts. The others wore jeans, trousers, trainers, chunky shoes, chunky jumpers/tops etc. I therefore felt at ease simply because I hadn't crossed dressed because skirts etc are not the main wear for women these days especially going to social events as it is jeans/trousers the same items they expect men to remain in. You can check out my thoughts on men in skirts at my web site www.theskirtedman.eu.

I have not put any updated photos of me skirted in public on my web site for a few months now. Most places we go to like dentist, opticians, food shopping etc are not convenient to photograph. Like Recitals at Ripon Cathedral. Also my wife is a little self conscious taking such photos so I'm afraid you will just have to accept what I write. Photos on my web site skirted in public are as far as I'm concerned proof that I do. This blog has one or two of me at work and as the summer progresses I'll see if I can get some more public skirted photos.

I have added one or two items to my website www.theskirtedman.eu on various pages, even two on 29th March on the Initial page and My Observation page. Very active on Twitter @TheSkirtedMan keeping my session to no more than 45 to 60 minutes Monday to Friday evening, occasionally at a weekend if I have a few minutes. Twitter doesn't dominate my life as I say in my blog 2nd February 2014. I search man in a skirt and men in skirts and post replies to those I feel warrant a response from me. I post occasional tweets generally on topics supporting the non-recognition of Domestic and/or Sexual Violence towards men and other rights of men that I feel are ignored within an era of equality and equal rights for all. I do not doubt the same applies just as much to women but these days I feel society and the media are obsessed with womens equality to a point men in certain quarters are now discriminated against. Firstly this makes the matter for men the same as what women had a few years/decades back  and secondly how can you have equality when a group or groups are discriminated or disadvantaged. I believe in TRUE EQUALITY for all, not specific gender bias. I'll not get on a soap box here, this is not the purpose of my blogs on this blogger platform. The purpose is to let those who think a man in a skirt is odd, freak, queer etc, to know that actually apart from the skirt I am no different to the vast majority of humans. I save my soap box on "political" issues for blogs written by others on specific issues that I occasional search for under men in skirts, feminism etc or occasionaly via my site. This area on my site has a few pages but I do intend to rejig my site and create a specific section on Feminism and the Rights of Men to sit along side my current main area men in skirts. This will take a bit of time, time I do not have at the moment due to the barn conversion work but it is in mind. At the moment I consider what spare time I have after work, friends and social events that I promote men in skirts.

Barn conversion. This is really progressing but the last two weeks I have taken it a little bit more sedately but will from this week step up to the intense pace.
I needed to  ease a bit as being hard at the barn 7 days a week mostly since mid November 2013 I started to flag. It started after the plasterer left site on 28th February 2014 having completed all plaster work. Whilst he was here I made it my goal to keep a head of him at all times making sure all preparatory work was done so as not to delay him. The odd time he did catch me up he would have a day or 2 day job elsewhere which allowed me to pull away again. Although I, including my wife were possible, continued with on going jobs the intense pressure to achieve goals wasn't there so  my body started to relax a bit and tiredness came on. Going slower and easier allowed batteries to recharge and now I feel that I have the power to push the enthusiasm. This  tiredness didn't hep as I pointed on my own the entire west gable of the barn conversion. I telephoned the scaffolders in mid February assuming they would put me on a list and say "see you in April" but they didn't. "We can put it up in two weeks time" is what I heard. That was to be the first week of March. March is not always ideal for pointing due to rain and frost but I didn't delay them knowing that the price included a 6 week period and the owner of the firm said it would be extended if the weather continued as it had been for the UK, very wet and windy. It was raining the day they put it up and slight wind but the forecasters were predicting high pressure, sun and much warmer temperatures by the weekend, only 3 days away. Could it be possible. Well it was and for 7 days here we had warm dry settled conditions, in fact later that following week I would end two days of working on the gable sat on the scaffolding with a lager watching the sun set behind the hills.

On 24th March I took delivery of a Septic Tank that turns the waste into grey water. They say you can drink it but I'll pass on that. In fact everyone says the same. I could install a tank but I do not have the equipment to do so so I approached a local builder that  was happy to step in for me utilising my time and experience to work along side the two men dispatched to do the job. I didn't have to wait long either for the building firm to come on site, two weeks. At the time of this blog, the tank is in the garden wall rebuilt having been taken down for access and the ground being re-established. Monday 31st March should see the completion but the garden level needs raising due to the height of the outlet pipe accessing the former soak away of the two former barns. 5 tons of soil already in, 6 more tons coming Monday 31st March. I do not have photos of myself helping the tank installation for this blog. It is known locally about my skirt wearing and obtaining professional services where I need it is not a problem, including no ill effect on my self employment. In fact that has grown and replacement clients due to the loss of others either moving out of the area or unfortunately due to death. I have never had to advertise my self employment business. My reputation is obviously sufficient. I did not think it was right to place other direct individuals within my life who are providing a service here or on my web site. It is not the same as general photos in a public space. It's why it is neither thought of photos at hospitals, dentists, optician etc. I know 95% plus of this barn conversion is via my own hands and with my wifes support where possible.

With regards the barn itself, the plaster phase is completed. It is back to me and my wife only to continue. I have the electric circuits operational for heating and power circuits both upstairs and downstairs. The 11 upstairs  recessed ceiling lights in the bedrooms and landing are in place. They can come live once I have the en-suite electric accessories fitted like lights, shaver points extractor fans etc. All the upstairs plaster has been blinded white and my wife is now in the process of applying the colour coats. All the ceilings upstairs and the sloping section of the ceilings leading to the side walls are finished decorating wise. Once I and the builder have the septic tank finished this week I start building the 10 oak doors. I started one in between completing the pointing and starting work on the septic tank. It remains in complete due to organising and coordinating the septic tank project and other issues. Next week 84 meters of skirting board should arrive ready for me to miter and put in place. So, doors, skirting, En-suite/Shower room accessories including wash hand basins, toilets, with the completion of decorating is all that needs to be done.

We are not doing much preparation for our hopeful move to France. We did quite a bit when two successive Estate Agents said leave your barn at first fix i.e. before electrics, plumbing and plastering, let new owners have the opportunity to personalise  and one said you will be gone by the end of the summer the other said within 6 weeks. They denied it when 10 weeks had passed! We dropped the first, and the second when the latter said we should not finish the barn, it will become unsalable!  So here we are Spring 2014, new agent, no promises, staff earn salary via commission only by selling houses and fixed price all disbursements and fees included. No payment until completion of sale and nothing if we decide to drop them! We feel these people could be more proactive somehow. Having done a lot of research for France neither of us are doing anything to serious until we have a definitive buyer. It's pointless. Some evenings I'll do research on administration side of the move to see if anything has changed with regards rules and keep the information refreshed for us. My wife keeps talking to me in French which doesn't always go down to well when my mind is on other things like barn project management etc but I am aware that my French is poor, in fact very poor and at some point I will need to sit down and tackle it. But then we are back to time.

My activities apart from work are centered around serious DIY, walking the hills, seeing interesting towns and stately homes, as well as eating out, not frequently but enough to make the event still feel as though it is something different etc. I did have another interesting hobby which I moth balled in early 2013 due to the impending move and the work  needed to do in relation to it. It was managing savings via the stock market. Funds nothing like the big finance houses, but any surplus funds we had I invested myself, researched myself and would regularly return 20% pa. As this move seems to be lingering I may stop monitoring the assets and look more seriously at it. It was good fun. Yes  made mistakes but I also didn't. I got a lot of buzz out of it and it must have an even bigger adrenaline rush when dealing like the big investment houses do. Our pot is not big I'm a seasonal self employed gardener and my wife a recently retired administrator but I knew returns were better than banks/building societies and with having limited resources I didn't trust the finance industry so like other aspects of my life I taught myself. Now spring is here walking and visiting places will become active again but not until the barn is finished. We are not pub drinkers. Going out is for meals which we do do, either as a twosome or meeting up with friends. My wife is currently organising a meet for a meal with friends so another is in the pipeline. We do enjoy watching movies. Recently watched Captain Philips which we highly recommend. Acquired Gravity for £9.99 but verdict was 'crap'. Brilliant special effects but a 'crap' story line. Like everything in life we are all different in tastes and preferences and I'm sure many will like Gravity and not Captain Philips. Last night we watched Escape Plan and we both thought it was brilliant. Recently watched Paranoia and Thor 2, again both good. We have a varied film preference but do prefer thrillers and fast action. Neither of us are to bothered about car based films so Need for Speed is not on the list. Also watched over the last 8 weeks sci-fi  like Oblivion, very good and enjoyed Elysium but it is not a film we will watch again in a hurry. Others recently watched are Enders Game, highly recommend, and White House Down which we both thought was better in all aspects to Olympus has Fallen. Others including some from our DVD library have also been seen. These are our observations only and at no time do we ever expect others to fall into line, we accept we are all individuals with differing choices and preferences.

I'll try and come back before 8 weeks time and will see if I can get a newer up to date skirted in public photo bearing in mind convenience and practicality.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Man in a Skirt - Barn Conversion & Encounters.

I have said this before, but it is amazing how time passes especially when busy. Some 6 weeks since.

So, what has this SkirtedMan been doing? Well the "obsession" and main focus is our barn conversion. You will note from my earlier blogs that my wife & I have decided back in 2012 to relocate to France, wife retired, and start a new life over there. Why not, a change is as good as a rest. We are both very resourceful and practical people. I learn new techniques literally "on the job" and much prefer to be practical. The only aspect of life I am dependent upon is the medical profession.

Back in 2012 Estate Agents in our area, we contacted four, all said don't finish the barn, let new owners have the opportunity to personalise, that and the price drop for not completing was the only two things they agreed on. Even the listing price all varied widely. Anyhow, nothing happened so at the end of my work season I and my wife set to and the pace of the barn completion, like 11 years to get it to electrics, plumb and plaster, was dramatically changed to it will be completed by April 2014.

My wife is not a DIY person but will happily paint and decorate even though neither of us like that job. Since she retired she has got more involved in the other side of DIY even though not her chosen hobby, but sees the advantage my knowledge and practical ability has for us as a team, and yes we do operate as a team so she does get stuck in. Mid November to end December 2013 she was sawing, nailing etc, although at a more slower pace but did take over dog walking and keep the running of the house in order, relieving me of my duties in that area. At the end of December one bedroom and en-suite has been plastered out so once dry my wife is now primarily on painting duties only whilst running the house. I continued at a non-stop rate to get the landing, shower room, second bedroom & en-suite ready for plastering as we have employed a plasterer.
I think I have mentioned I cannot plaster and although that means there are two areas in life I am dependent upon, plastering can be learnt if I put myself into night class which was an option as the barn progressed before we accelerated the relaxed hobby timeline approach.

The six rooms up stairs are all plastered out. I need another 3 days to finish one of the downstairs rooms but the plasterer is starting that room on Monday. He'll soon need to take time out as my wife finds the hard physical preparation side difficult and there is only so many hours in a day for one person to take a building from a shell to completion. I should have completed all downstairs preparation by mid February therefore plastering will be about a week later. I then go upstairs to start to cut and miter 100 m plus of skirting board and construct 10 oak doors for the barn conversion. Then I put in the en-suite & shower room fittings as well as place the electric fronts. We'll both be busy until mid April when my seasonal work starts again. My wife has got one bedroom and en-suite with two coats of white emulsion to "blind" the dominant plaster colour.
The landing is well on. It is amazing all the hidden work that is involved for us both but the end result is good. We are the Key Holders for our neighbour who needed repair work on the central heating system. The plumber was very impressed with the work he saw and complemented the standard of work. This also happened with the Architect who came for the key as next door are planning an extension.

We are both hard at it all the time, and since Christmas only had one weekend off for going to friends and this next weekend coming when other friends come to us. Our weekly shop and evenings are our only breaks. You look at a job and think I'll do this, this and that but when you start many other jobs or problems appear. Working on it today I realised I have used some 1200 screws so far and still one and a half room to do before all is plastered. I have also purchased a third box of dry wall screws, 1000 in each, so a good 2500 of these will be used before finished.

As the skirted man I have been active publicly, Harrogate, Darlington, and at our friends. We have had a meal out one evening, so although low key publicly, I am still active and despite the wind and rain. I do have skirts that are not prone to blow up! I have the odd smirk and indirect comment with finger pointing but they are few and far between. Many talk to me/us and some don't but we experienced that when in trousers and quite honestly it shows the true character of humans. But we are not bothered. As I say on my site www.theskirtedman.eu they should ponder on what others say or think about them rather than dictating what others should do. When we went for the meal, one couple came to the table near us, but it wasn't long before they moved. I thought it was me, my wife said not but on leaving we had to pass their new location, the man commented to her and she turned so her back was to me. It was me. She wasn't startling herself from my view, and she was in chunky shoes, trousers and very short hair. So if you are reading this, which I doubt, if you want traditionalism then practice it yourself.

In the evening I do the occasional search for blogs on men in skirts, and defend Men in skirts on Twitter. I can be found @TheSkirtedMan www.twitter.com. I spend roughly 60 minutes, Monday to Friday, occasionally on a Sunday evening if we have been out over the weekend. I and my wife have a life and although since 2010/11 I now make a stand I will put some time into my cause but not dominate my life.

In early January I thought I would start the new year be being more chatty on Twitter, but I am not a 'chatty' person, I need a purpose or sensible conversation, perhaps I am serious rather than laid back, may be, but that is my personality. I am very chatty with friends but I do not find making conversation easy among people. Anyhow I noted a tweeter promoting gender equality, a soap box issue for me, but noted tweets were pro women and some negative on men. I replied by what I thought was not lambasting women but basically saying women do it too. Well the tweets passed by over two/three days and my observations were dismissed as not being structural and my experience as an individual with a bunch of ladies not relevant. I was also described as being a white Anglo Saxon male who occupies the highest place in society. Well quite honestly this didn't just upset me, it p***** me **f. I stopped following, tightened up any thoughts of being "chatty" and started following a few tweeters I was aware of who speak for equality but with regard men as well, both male and female tweeters. Twitter was for me simply a platform to promote my views and matters that I feel are important. After all the majority of Tweeters are no different so for once I have joined the herd of human society so I'll try and remain an individual within the Twitter world. Chatter is done between friends and acquaintances either in person, or via email.

After this experience I am to create an extension to my web site on Mysogony and Misandry. I certainly do not intend being one sided, that is not me. I have always been fair, open and consider all aspects even though in the past others, especially at work take advantage. Since 2011 I still hold the same values but I am more active with replies and standing up for myself as an individual. I am a firm believer in gender equality for all, in all aspects of life. I do not believe in gender stereo typing of either gender as society does by both men and women. I do not believe any one should prosper in life simply because they claim discrimination or racism, but simply by merit. My wife & I work together as a team bouncing off each others strengths and weaknesses, and so do our friends. We are very selective who comes within our inner "onion ring circles" of our personal lives those on the outer and those that do not qualify. This applies to family members as well. We both have an honest, open and balanced way of life, respecting others but a line is drawn if this is abused by others towards us. There are over 6 billion on this planet, you cannot be friends with everyone and we certainly cannot have the same beliefs and ethos. Live and let live.

This section of my site may not appear for a week or so, I am still very busy and I put thought into my subject. It will not be one sided, dogmatic, anti women etc, but it will be a balanced section reflecting on both men and women and the problems society with it labels and those with single minded obsessions brings. I acknowledge women still have issues within the Western World but I also believe men in this modern society do to and many shared with women, perhaps in a lesser volume, but shared they do. Domestic violence for example affects 1 in 6 men in the UK yet you would not think so. I have many inequality examples where women get preference to men. Language and behaviour of some men, not all men is the same as language and behaviour of some women in some aspects, even murder and criminal acts which do not get the same lime light in the media as men.

I acknowledge Feminism as a movement to enable women get equality, something they should have regardless but I step back when it appears to push mens rights out of the way. My wife says I cannot change the world, she is right, I don't expect to, but many droplets make an ocean. Also as a man I do feel this modern society does at times and in certain areas discriminate and I do find it hard to sit back since 2011 when others are very negative on men and generalise and label all men the same. Some are and justify the title as do some women but we all don't. Just like women, we too are individuals and have rights.

Ending on a more positive note, Spring is on it's way, only 6 weeks to the Spring Equinox, the nights are getting lighter and we must be near the end to the UK's current run since early December 2013 of this very persistent extremely windy and heavy rain. I do feel sorry for those caught in the massive and deep floods of the Somerset Levels.